Council considers additional change orders on Hwy. 61 project

Amended agreement with Amtrak commits passenger rail service to $1.55 million for platform construction, depot renovations.

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison City Council approved a change order Tuesday that included close to 30 changes to the work being done on the 6th-10th Hwy. 61 reconstruction project Tuesday.

Most of the changes are typical or customary changes on items that pop up as work is being done, but one item caught the attention of the council and Mayor Matt Mohrfeld.

One change order submitted by Jones Contracting Corp was for an engineer’s “revision to the roadway design at the east end of the project to accurately tie into the existing roadway”.

The existing roadway is the new section of Hwy. 61 that was just completed earlier this year by Jones Contracting.

“We have to have an engineer revisit tying into a road they designed?” Mohrfeld said.

“So here we are with a sweeping change order for a whole lot of things including making sure we match up to the existing highway. What’s next – the wrong placement of lights down in the parking lot?”

Public Works Director Mark Bousselot said he felt “compelled” to include it in his report so the council could see it, but said there was changes taken out of the work, and a lot put back in. But the sum total of the increase was about $6,700.

City Councilman Rusty Andrews asked in light-hearted fashion if there was an explanation given as to why engineers didn’t tie in the connection correctly in the first place.

“No, I was kinda of shocked too, so I just included it in the report to you,” Bousselot replied.

Other changes included revisions adjacent to Chuong Garden and revisions to the northeast corner of 10th Street and Avenue H, and to add heavy rock called “macadem” to help stabilize unsuitable soil that was encountered on the project.

The move approved 5-1 with Kevin Rink voting against the change order. Councilman Chad Cangas was absent from the meeting.

The council also approved a $29,167 increase in the Fort Madison Community Trail Project on the Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center Community Foundation portion of the trail up to Rodeo Park. The change will pay for 1,152 feet of new fence along the trail rather than reassembling the existing fencing. The council approved the motion 6-0 with several councilmembers indicating the fencing did need to be replaced.

In an unrelated issue, the council voted on an amendment to the agreement between the city and Amtrak for the installation of the passenger platform at the Old Depot. The agreement called the Old Station Revitalization Agreement outlines the duties and responsibilities of the city and Amtrak regarding what needs to be done to enable Amtrak to relocate operations to the depot in Riverview Park.

Under the original agreement, Amtrak agreed to contribute $150,000 to the effort. Bids on the work came in about $1 million higher than engineer estimates and the city approached Amtrak at that time, after the former city council balked at the price of the platform, to help cover the increased costs.

In March of 2020, Amtrak, with approval of the Federal Railroad Administration, approved increasing that contribution $1.4 million, which sets the amount of its contribution at $1.55 million. The amendment reflects that increased commitment.

Mohrfeld said the FRA through Amtrak stepped up because it would have cost more to renovate the current passenger depot and make it ADA compliant.

City Manager David Varley said the city’s portion of the costs of all the depot relocation will be about $176,500 out of a $2.7 million project. But he said the city will need to contribute additional funds to finish interior modifications.

“Our best estimate right now, after redoing the interior and doing some ADA upgrades to the bathroom, it may be closer to a $100,000 difference rather than the $300,000 or $400,000 we originally estimated. I was kind of a 3rd party off to the side, but this will be the first time (Amtrak) will actually put something in writing to commit to it,” Varley said.

Councilman Tom Schulz asked if Mohrfeld would continue to investigate the agreements that took place with former Mayor Brad Randolph to see if there is a better deal the city can work with Amtrak.

“Personally, I think we’re probably going to get there the same way we were going to get there, but yes I will sit down with Brad and make sure this is absolutely the best deal – and this is very near and dear to him.”

In other action, the council approved the purchase of a new filter at the Fort Madison swimming pool at the end of the season. The filter is a $150,000 filter with a $12,000 engineering allowance. The city had budgeted a $133,000 for the project out of remaining funds in a Quality of Life Bond Fund. The additional funds will come from the general fund.

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